Houghton confirms there is no offer for Truscotts

By James Wells

BRISBANE: Betta Stores Limited (BSL) chief executive officer, Guy Houghton, has confirmed that there is no offer on the table for the company-owned Truscott Hi-Fi business in South Australia, after a report claimed the retail group has approached several high profile retailers regarding a potential sale.

An article published in the Australian Financial Review today said BSL has "secretly begun looking for buyers for the Truscott Hi-Fi business as it battles to avoid a cash flow cruch".

The article claims that Wilson HTM Corporate Finance has approached several retailers regarding the potential purchase of the South Australian retail business including Harvey Norman, Clive Peeters, Bing Lee, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys.

Houghton told Current.com.au this afternoon that it is widely known that Wilson was assisting BSL.

"Wilsons were appointed a long time ago to assist with capital related programs in the business. They are also working with us on the redevelopment of all facets of the business, including the sale of some of the corporate stores," he said.

"I would like to make it clear that there are currently no offers on the table."

Houghton wanted to reassure the 100 employees within the Truscott chain that there is no offer for the business, but a sale is not out of the question.

"If an offer comes along, of course we will consider it in the best interests of the company, its shareholders and all of its employees."

BSL purchased Truscott in December 2004 for $22.68 million and according to the Australian Financial Review article, the business is turning over approximately $40 million annually.

In the financial year ending 30 June 2004, Truscotts had sales of $55.1 million and earnings of $3.3 million.

One of the major components of the Truscotts purchase was the Retail Mortgage Services consumer finance business which was worth approximately $10 million. This component of the business was sold to GE Money for $8.5 million in mid-April this year.

Truscott was the first retailer to introduce interest free finance to Australia.

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